Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gastronomic Hits...and Misses

We take our food pretty seriously around here--not that we have gourmet palates...or 5-star chef skills...but we generally do enjoy eating a variety of cuisines and tasting new dishes from time to time. Sometimes the experimental items I test on my family meet with approval, and join our repertoire. Quinoa (which has been around for centuries, but I certainly had never heard of it before becoming a vegetarian and searching for new sources of protein) springs to mind as one of the "keepers" we've come to incorporate often into our diet. Other attempts have not been nearly so well-received...yes, tofu, I'm talking to you. (Sigh. So much potential, such an unfortunate...sponge-like...texture...) There are a few delicacies we outright beets. (I know people love them, and insist that they're delicious when prepared properly, but we just can't go there. Husband and I chalk it up to traumatic childhood experiences involving slimy pickled...things. Shudder.)

And then there are the culinary wild cards I've been, let's say, "working up to": hello, brussels sprouts. This particular item took me a loooooong time to actually even consider cooking. You see, when I was growing up, my mother served these to us fairly regularly. I don't know exactly how Mom prepared them (bless her pea pickin' heart--ugh, peas, another vegetable I shun, but that's a different story...) but to this day I harbor vivid memories of limp...boiled...little balls of pungent cabbage-iness. I can still smell them, taste them, feel the mushiness in my mouth--and I'm not kidding, I always gagged when I tried to eat them. (I admit that may very well have been a psychologically-based physical reaction caused by how much I despised them. I also recall torrents of tears, perhaps in an attempt to coax my mother's sympathy. It must have worked, because my sister, brother and I were all eventually permitted to choose one--and only one--vegetable that we could always refuse at dinner. Yeah, buh-bye b-sprouts!) So you can see that I have history with these misleadingly-innocent-looking leafy green spheres, scars that needed to be ovecome before I could give them another chance to woo my tastebuds. But for some reason--maybe due to the decades that have passed since my break with brussels sprouts, I was feeling more kindly toward them of late, perhaps even willing to take that leap...

Then, as fate would have it, I was grocery shopping one day and encountered brussels-sprouts-in-a-bag. Already picked, washed, and ready to...whatever one does to render them palatable before springing them on one's unsuspecting family (bwah hah hah). Furthermore, they were on sale--it was clearly a sign from the Produce Gods! So I brought them home...and hid them from the children so I could present them as a fait accompli, without having to endure endless complaining and protesting beforehand. But at dinner the other night, we were talking about food (imagine that: us, discussing eating...while eating...typical) and somehow Derek mentioned brussels sprouts. I don't remember word-for-word what he said, but the context was decidedly NOT favorable, something along the lines of "one of those awful foods you'll absolutely never force on us, right"? I just couldn't help myself. I flashed him a sinister grin as I dramatically produced the bag o' brussels and flourished it in his general direction.

The reaction was instantaneous and impassioned. "NOOOOOOOO!!!!" both boys yelled simultaneously, waving their arms toward the offending foodstuff as if warding off some unspeakable evil. (I was immensely entertained already.) But then the verbal tirade began in earnest. "Mom, you purposely waited until Dad was gone to do this to us, didn't you?" Derek accused. (I assured him it was purely coincidence. However, one less reluctant participant is a good thing...) Then he turned to Riley, "C'mon, bro, let's run away from home to escape this torture." (Um, thank you very much, Mr. Drama. And the Oscar goes to...) It seemed as though Riley might have been slightly less horrified; at least he was giggling more and objecting less. Finally Derek fired his parting shot, "What's Dad's cell phone number? I want to text him and tell him what's going on around here!"

Sheesh, you'd think my intention was to break some kind of Child Care Code of Conduct or something, the way he went on and on...and all because I nefariously plotted to provide him with a nutritious, reportedly cancer-fighting, (hopefully) yummy green vegetable! So far I've printed out a supposedly "kid-approved" recipe for cooking them, but with our busy week I haven't gotten around to actually removing them from the bag and plopping them in a pan. Tomorrow...the Great Brussels Sprout Trial shall commence... (bwah ha ha!)

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